– On an afternoon in which the Mercyhurst football senior class was recognized, the group controlled the field in a 21-17 win over Shippensburg Saturday to conclude the season. The Lakers complete their most successful season in more than a decade with a record of 7-4.
Senior fullback Dave Stallard had a career high 116 yards receiving, senior running back Richard Stokes top 100 yards on the ground for the fifth time this year, and senior cornerback Theo Hall had two first-half interceptions that helped keep the Red Raider offense from building momentum.
Stallard’s 116 yards receiving were the most for any Mercyhurst player this year and his 77-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was the seventh longest catch in program history.
Mercyhurst outgained Shippensburg 384-326, including 229 yards on the ground, 130 more than the Red Raiders. Stokes had 101 rushing yards and Ben Jennings added 52 and a touchdown. Stallard had 37 rushing yards to go with his receiving total and quarterback Garrett Kensy scrambled for 36.
After a scoreless first quarter, Shippensburg went on top 7-0 on a Chris Infante one-yard rush. The Lakers came right back on a Jennings 29-yard touchdown scamper and Stallard followed with his long catch-and-run to make it 14-7. The Red Raiders came right back and scored on a Mike Harris eight-yard touchdown reception with just 43 seconds remaining.
In the second half, Shippensburg managed only a 20-yard Kyler Ford field goal but the Lakers won the game with an Aaron Haynes end around on the first play of the fourth quarter from five yards out for the 21-17 lead.
Shippensburg was driving for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter when Adam Brown came up with a huge play. The Red Raiders had a first-and-ten at the Mercyhurst 12-yard line when Brown sacked DiFebbo, forcing the ball loose. Andrew Bukta corralled the rolling ball and Mercyhurst held on.
Hall’s first interception came in the first quarter as Shippensburg had driven to the Mercyhurst 34-yard line. Red Raider quarterback Chad DiFebbo went for the end zone and Hall picked it off at the two-yard line and returned it 34 yards. He added a juggling second-quarter interception along the sidelines that stalled another Shippensburg drive.
The seven wins are the most since the 1995 team went 7-3 and it marks the first winning record for the program since 1997.